The Times has compiled its list of the “best books of the last 125 years” as part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of its Book Review Sunday supplement. Readers are invited to vote for their favorite on the list of twenty-five.
Here is the list:
1984 By GEORGE ORWELL
All the Light We Cannot See By ANTHONY DOERR
Beloved By TONI MORRISON
Catch-22 By JOSEPH HELLER
The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. SALINGER
Charlotte’s Web By E.B. WHITE
A Confederacy of Dunces By JOHN KENNEDY TOOLE
The Fellowship of the Ring By J.R.R. TOLKIEN
A Fine Balance By ROHINTON MISTRY
A Gentleman in Moscow By AMOR TOWLES
Gone With the Wind By MARGARET MITCHELL
The Grapes of Wrath By JOHN STEINBECK
The Great Gatsby By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
The Handmaid’s Tale By MARGARET ATWOOD
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone By J.K. ROWLING
Infinite Jest By DAVID FOSTER WALLACE
To Kill a Mockingbird By HARPER LEE
A Little Life By HANYA YANAGIHARA
Lolita By VLADIMIR NABOKOV
Lonesome Dove By LARRY MCMURTRY
One Hundred Years of Solitude By GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
The Overstory By RICHARD POWERS
A Prayer for Owen Meany By JOHN IRVING
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn By BETTY SMITH
Ulysses By JAMES JOYCE
Amazing. The Times included “Gone With The Wind,” currently on a progressive blacklist because of its politically incorrect portrayals of the pre-Civil War South and its African-American characters, and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has been similarly criticized lately for being too sympathetic to its Jim Crow era small town Mississippi whites.
There are also only seven female authors on the list. I would have expected the Times to move heaven and earth to get to 50% even if it meant including “Valley of the Dolls.”
The list is eccentric, even weird—I can think of, oh, maybe 100 books that I’d rate over any “Harry Potter” novel, but maybe Rowling was a beneficiary of the dearth of female authors—but that’s beside the point. The Times actually subordinated its instinct to pander to the extreme Left to the more serious and difficult task of determining literary merit.
There is hope.
Pointer: Ann Althouse
17 thoughts on “The New York Times Has An Outbreak Of Integrity In The Midst Of Its Progressive Bias Fever!”
Was this list compiled by a seventeen year old in 1966? Salinger and Joyce on the same list? (Who really reads Joyce’s “Ulysses?” I’ve tried. A couple of times. And failed. All sorts of guide books fully deployed notwithstanding.) Nabokov? No Faulkner? “Gatsby?” No Faulkner? This list is just silly.
Wanna bet “Wind” and “Mockingbird” get removed in a revised list once the torch mob appears?
Nabokov made it.
The reverence “Gatsby” is held in still bewilders me.
Nabokov making it is dumb for my money. Ethic corrupter stuff as far as I’m concerned.
“Gatsby” is one of the most preposterous books I’ve ever read.
“Ulysses”? I have tried to read that a number of times and can’t get too far. Perhaps it should be read aloud, which might give a better feel for the book. “A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” was much better. This, though, is a reader’s poll, so it is subject to the vagaries of the readership and doesn’t necessarily stand up to objective scrutiny. I mean, I liked “Gatsby” but never really got “Lolita”, even though i thought “The Stranger” was fascinating.
By the way, where are Hemingway, Faulkner, Bronte, and Twain? Tolstoy? Garcia Lorca? Are they on the larger list that I can’t read by virtue of the pay wall?
Remember,125 years only gets them back to 1896. The Brontes were both dead before the Civil War. Twain didn’t write his best novels within that period.
I was surprised that Dreiser, Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis and Faulkner were all shut out.
Where was “Roots”?
That makes sense but still . . .
Rowling is also controversial because activist Twitter hates her with the passion of ten thousand burning stars right now. She’s a TERF, you see, and so any recognition of her works borders evil. On a more serious note, The Sorcerer’s Stone is an eclectic choice, Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire were, in my opinion, better. Similar beef with Fellowship and Two Towers. Perhaps lists like this tap the first book of a series as a placeholder for better books, so that people that want to take a look at these lists don’t have to read a series for primer.
Considering the rest, Charlottes Web seems an odd one. (I think I read it, as a kid, but am not sure) I have no idea why Handmaids Tale is on the list. It’s a awful book. Much worse than Harry Potter. I haven’t read them all, but… just purely for a book quality, 1984, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind, imo are simply much better written books than A Handmaids Tale. That book is on par with ordinary… it’s not excellent in any way. I’m an avid reader, which doesn’t really make me qualified to judge books, I suppose, but I fail to grasp why it’s on anyone’s “great book list”. Even more unknown titles like Ashes and Swan Song are better dystopian stories and are not as disjointed and choppy to read. If you’re going to put fantasy novels in there, yes, there are better titles than Harry Potter as well, although it’s at least well written. I’m currently reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, after doing a few meh dystopian novels, and it’s good too, but not great, but at least the back story is intriguing.
Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan or Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which admittedly could’ve been 200+ pages shorter, deserves a place on the list before Handmaids Tale.
As an aside, I am reading Asminov’s “Foundation” and, frankly, don’t quite get the hype.
My wife pointed out that the list squeezed genre books written by women onto the list as the only way to keep it from being an even bigger rout for the boys. “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is particularly egregious, along with Harry Potter. Surely they could find better fantasy–and more original fare as well.
Virginia Woolf? Flannery O’Connor? Edith Wharton?
And back to the boys. Henry James? Proust????
Isn’t the “Handmaid’s Tale” revealed truth to a generation or two of women?
Virginia? No great novel. Flannery? Short stories only, and dead before 40. Wharton? I’d dosqualify her just for writing “Ethan Frome.” Proust lost his slot to Joyce. Henry James is unreadable.
The Sorcerer’s Stone isn’t even the best book of the Harry Potter series. I’ve always thought Kate Elliott had better stories, also Robin Hobb, Kim Harrison, Sara Maas (these are not particularly the best or most renowned, just some that come to mind) there’s a lot of good female authors, but not having the Chronicles of Amber, Wheel of Time, or Game of Throne series on the list while having Harry Potter is just sad.
I enjoyed Harry Potter, but there are a number of sf authors I would rate higher.
David Weber, Elizabeth Moon, Robert Heinlein, Asimov, Tanya Huff. Just to name a few.
One of the problems here though is that the author may be outstanding but it’s more the body of work than an individual title.
Connie Willis’ “The Doomsday Book” is a time traveling joy to read, and its sequel, “To Say Nothing of the Dog” is just a delight. Much better than Atwood and Rowling combined.